Tuesday Night @ The Starry Kitchen

Posted in Press, Rants and Raves, Restaurants on June 24th, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

There are those nights where we search for comfort food… the type of culinary delights from the Starry Kitchen, an entrepreneurial venture from two people whose main goal is to share good food with good people.  Once or twice a week, Wyn & Thi Tran turn their small NoHo apartment into a mecca for home cooked food served with a homegrown attitude.  With order filled post-its lining the kitchen cabinet, Wyn & Thi serve food that tastes fantastic, with the simple desire that people enjoy the food.  And with a bunch of regulars who come back every week (many of whom I met tonight), it seems that the Starry Kitchen is becoming an addicitve habit for many.

Wyn, Me, & GQ

Wyn, Me, & GQ

Tonight, Short Ribs were on the menu, and presented in 3 spectacular packages: tacos, burritos, or a sandwich.  With Korean BBQ, Taco Trucks, and street food becoming the latest trend in the L.A. food scene, it was a novel concept to get good food, at a good price, and not have to wait in line for an hour plus on somebody’s front lawn just to get dinner.  I started with the burrito, which was fantastic, and stuffed with short rib, kimchi fried rice, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro.  The burrito had wonderful flavor, with a nice smokiness coming from the short rib, combined with a spicy kimchi sticky fried rice and nice hint of cilantro for some depth and balance.  The cabbage and carrots gave the burrito some great crunch and provided a wonderful texture balance to the rest of the ingredients.

Up next was a pair of short rib tacos, served on crispy corn tortillas and no kimchi fried rice, the tacos had an identity all of their own, and with a garnish of lime, provided a wonderful balance of citrus and smoke.  If done wrong, grilled short rib can come out charred and overcrispy, but this meat had a tenderness that oozed natural juices that I was licking off my fingers by the end of the dish.  With a 3 hour service window, people have to get their food early, as the Starry Kitchen feeds the masses until their supply runs out.

a very tasy burrito

a very tasty burrito

I will dream about these tacos...

I will dream about these tacos...

Although I left the comfort of my friends’ kitchen before closing time, there was a line of people waiting for food, while Wyn took orders and Thi kept serving up delicious food.  It’s a 2-person operation, and a complete team effort.  Both Wyn & Thi just seem to love sharing their food with their customers, and you can tell there is some special emotion put into each and every bite.  With a small box on the table requesting donations, customers respectfully oblige, and seem happy to contribute to helping Wyn & Thi keep this operation afloat.  The coolest thing about the Starry Kitchen is that the menu is always changing.  Although the packaging is always the same (burritos, tacos, or sandwiches), the ingredients always change, and Thi comes up with an array of Pan-Asian cuisine that keeps people coming back for more.  Whether it’s Sundays from 12pm-3pm, or select weeknights from 6pm-9pm, the Starry Kitchen has tapped into why people love home cooked food, and it seems people will keep coming back for more.  Before the dinner rush, Thi had some time to sit down with Wyn and I and sample her own creation.  Thi, who began this business after being laid off from her job, has found something that truly makes her happy, and you can see it whether she’s eating it herself, or serving it to the line of people who stand outside her sliding glass door waiting for a home cooked meal.  I would like to thank my friends for serving me up some amazing cuisine, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the menu for next week.  Check ‘em out at www.starrykitchen.com, and tell them the Kosher Pig sent you…

KFC ain't got nothin' on these finger lickin' good foods...

KFC ain't got nothin' on these finger lickin' good foods...

GQ requests donations from Starry Kitchen patrons

GQ requests donations from Starry Kitchen patrons

Chef Thi grubbing on a short rib burrito before the dinner rush

Chef Thi grubbing on a short rib burrito before the dinner rush

sintomas diabetes

Posted in Press, Rants and Raves on June 22nd, 2009 by Eddie – 2 Comments

Some thoughts…

A year ago today, I stepped into a kitchen for the first time as a cook, and it has been a wild ride ever since.  When I got into this business, I had no idea it would transport me to the stages of the Food Network, but I am so happy it did.  As I said in the final episode, looking back, I may have done one or two things differently, but I have no regrets about the decisions I made and I stand behind every dish I put on a plate.  I am proud that I stood up there and took the punches that were thrown at me like a man, even if I did get knocked out earlier than I expected.

When I applied for the show, I had 3 goals: 1) Make the show, 2) Win a challenge, and 3) WIN!  Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, and although I didn’t end up the winner, I never thought my recipe would have ended up in the pages of Esquire magazine, and I am proud to say that I will always be able to take that with me.  In fact, go buy that issue right now! I promise you will never look at brussel sprouts the same way…

To this day, I still don’t feel that I deserved to go home, and truthfully, it was kind of hard to swallow.  I won a challenge, hcg ultra never cooked raw food, and I still was questioned for my culinary authority.  How do you win a challenge and still end up in the bottom 3?  At the same time, I obviously didn’t show the judges the consistency they were looking for, and they sent me packing.  It just makes me hungry to become a better chef and to never stop learning about food.

Looking back at the experience as a whole, I have absolutely no regrets and loved every minute that I was there.  I will always remember our “family” dinners at the end of our long and exhausting days, sitting around the table, sharing stories, and just enjoying spending time together.  I will always remember chatting it up with Duff Goldman and Alex Guarnaschelli at the Sweet 16 party (which was my 30th birthday), and if either of them are ever looking for an extra pair of hands, I would love the chance to make some awesome cakes with Duff, and cook with Alex in a kitchen as beautiful as the one in Butter restaurant.  The baby blue jars containing all seo company of the spices is a memory that will always be in the back of my mind.  I will always remember the excitement I felt when I was told I won the Esquire challenge, and I will always remember the disappointment I felt when I was told my Valentine’s Day dinner fell short.  I will always remember Michael screaming about his desire for a pony, Jeffrey and I sparring to work off some excess energy, or power walking with Jamika around the stove top in the green room before a challenge.  Most of all, I will always remember the friends that I made from this experience.  To Michael, Jamika, Teddy, Brett, Melissa, Jeffrey, Jen, Katie, and Debbie: I love all of you and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us.  You all have a special place in my heart and you are all Stars in my book

Now that the show is done, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me.  Since returning to L.A., I have been working in various restaurants around Los Angeles, and have also had the opportunity to cater a few private parties.  I definitely missed being in the kitchen, and it’s nice to be back in the groove with my face to fire.  My summer is looking pretty fantastic.  I have been doing a bunch of demos, will be traveling around the country visiting with a few different chefs and sampling some food, and will finish my summer in Washington D.C. for a week in late July to cook with Teddy Folkman, who I am proud to say has become one of my great friends.  I can’t wait to be in the middle of a dinner rush, back to back, laughing hysterically, while putting out truly amazing food together… It’s gonna be a blast!  I also have a new website: www.foods4dudes.com, which is dedicated to everything and anything related to food.  Recipes, blogs, you name it, I’m doing it!  I am also providing private chef services for bachelor and bachelorette parties, so if you have any friends getting married, give me a holler and we’ll make it a night that they will never forget!  As far as the rest of my future, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… something tells me that food is going to play a pretty big role in my life and I promise that this is not the last that you have heard from me.  This experience was the birth of my culinary career, and even though I am a kid at heart, I can’t wait to grow up!

Finally, and most importantly, I would like thank everyone in my life who has supported me over the past 6 months.  To my family, my friends, Kit, and anyone else who has sent me good vibes from afar, thank you for being a positive force in my life.  You have no idea how inspirational you have all been.  You have all given me the power to believe that anything is possible and that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it.  I would also like to thank everyone at the Food Network for giving a young aspiring chef the opportunity to shine.  To Bob, Susie, and Chef Flay: thank you for your honesty, your feedback, and your support.  Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see you all again in the future.

See you on the flipside and don’t forget to play with you food!

New F4D Recipes

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21st, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

check out some new recipes in the Dude Foods section… from Roast Chicken (2 legs), to my Brussel Sprout & Bacon Hash (Rabbit Food), to Pulled Pork (4 legs), I am positive you will find some good stuff to try at home.

Southern Comfort

Posted in Music, Rants and Raves, Travel on June 19th, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

Last week, I headed back to Tennessee for a few days to visit with some friends, eat some good southern cooking, and catch some truly spectacular music.  After spending a good chunk of my life in the south, there is a part of me that craves to be back where biscuits, pulled pork, and pabst blue ribbon are staples of the diet.  My best friend Trey picked me up at the airport and the fun began: lunch of pulled pork, mac & cheese, and pabst.  There is absolutely nothing that brings me back to southern cooking than this grouping of food and drink.

there is no such thing as too much goodness

there is no such thing as too much goodness

Up next, a little wakeboarding, and no… we didn’t wait 30 minutes before getting in the water.  I haven’t gone wakeboarding since summer camp when I was 13, but I couldn’t resist.  With the speedboat growling, and the music pumping through the speakers,  I jumped into the water and just tried to hold on… I managed to get up on the board, attempted to look cool, and then ate the water a few times…  What an absolute blast!

I'm turning pro in 3 weeks...

I'm turning pro in 3 weeks...

maybe not...

maybe not...

After we got out of the water, we headed to Thompon-Boling Arena, witnessed Phish rock the joint, and after dancing my ass off for about 3 hours, headed back home.  Everyone was exhausted, but we all had a blast… Sitting with your boys you remember the good times… where it all started.  Throwing back beers, telling stories, and just enjoying each other’s company… There is nothing better… Even the cat got involved in the drinking.

Commander Zulu enjoys his PBR tallboys...

Commander Zulu enjoys his PBR tallboys...

NFNS Season 5 – Episode 2

Posted in Press on June 16th, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

Hello all,

Well, episode 2 was quite a ride… winning Esquire in the beginning, and then facing elimination at the end.  I have to be honest, I didn’t think I deserved to be in the bottom 3 again… especially since I had won the previous challenge.  But, I guess that’s why I am the contestant and they are the judges…  I mean, c’mon!  To this point, there have been 3 challenges, I have won one of them them, never cooked raw food, and never had difficulty plating my dishes in the time allowed… Oh well, just try and live to fight another day.

On a more positive note, I have attached the link for the winning recipe from the challenge: Grilled New York Strip Steak with my Tennessee Drunken Braised Brussel Sprout & Bacon Hash, topped with a spicy Caribbean chutney.  I hope you enjoy it.

These ain't your momma's brussel sprouts!

These ain't your momma's brussel sprouts!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook 6 strips bacon (diced) just until the edges start to crisp. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate. Reserve the fat. • Wipe skillet clean and return to medium-high heat. Melt 1 tbsp butter. Add a chopped shallot and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Coarsely chop 1 leek (white and light-green parts only) and 1 lb brussels sprouts,* and slice 1 scallion (white part only). Add to skillet and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about ten minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add half a bottle of Jamaican lager, so that half of the hash is in liquid. Bring to a simmer and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the bacon, another tbsp butter, and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Smear 1 tbsp softened butter all over 2 New York strip steaks (about 1 lb each), then season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill in an ovenproof pan just to sear, then place in the oven and cook until desired doneness — about eight minutes for medium rare. Remove and let rest ten minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter, then add 1 orange (chopped), 1 apple (peeled, cored, and diced), half a mango (diced), 0.5 tsp minced ginger, and another chopped shallot. Cook until everything starts to soften, about five minutes. Add a pinch of cinnamon, a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce, a splash of lager, and 0.5 tsp of the reserved bacon fat. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the fruit is soft and has the consistency of chunky jam, about ten minutes. Drink the rest of the beer.

To the hash, stir in another tbsp butter, up to 2 tbsp of the reserved bacon fat, 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard, and 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and sauté a few minutes more. Total cooking time for the hash is about 30 minutes. · Divide hash onto two plates. Place steaks on top and spoon on some chutney. Serve with more lager. Serves two.

* You can use a food processor to quickly chop the brussels sprouts and leeks. Just don’t pulverize them — a few pulses and they’re good. Otherwise they’ll get mushy.

2009 Celebrity Chef Challenge in Sacramento

Posted in Rants and Raves on June 7th, 2009 by Eddie – 1 Comment

What do you get when you put an Iron Chef type of competition where 6 chefs from different local restaurants each have 45 minutes to prepare 3 courses, and being judged on taste, presentation, and the ability to incorporate 5 “mystery” ingredients into their dishes: the 2009 Celebrity Chef Challenge in Sacramento.  Located in Sacramento’s California Automobile Museum, and with a supporting cast of about 65 different vendors including local bbq legend JR’s Texas BBQ, Black Sheep Winery, Cecchetti Olive Oils, Hoppy Brewing Company, and local brewing giant Sierra Nevada, this event pulled out all of the stops and created a wonderful atmosphere celebrating Sacramento’s local culinary scene.

just a few of the sweet rides that surrounded the vendor areas

just a few of the sweet rides that surrounded the vendor areas

Although the festivities were wonderful, and the vendors were all spectacular, serving up great food and drink, I was there for the competition, and was lucky enough to be one of 6 judges for the event!  The chefs came out blazing, cooking two at a time, and were given a list of 5 mystery ingredients right before the start of the challenge: scallops, quail, peppers, raspberries, and Hoppy Brewing Company’s Blonde Ale.  The main challenge of the competition was to incorporate these ingredients into as many dishes as possible, and even though each chef was only required to present 3 dishes, some were able to construct 4 or 5 dishes in the 45 minute time allotted.  The six competing chefs were Shawn Menard of Chops Steak, Obadiah Huetter of Mangoes Restaurant at Arden Hills Resort & Spa, Charles Connell of the DoubleTree Hotel, Enrique Mondragon of SacTown Catering & Cafe, Tim Ray (an amateur chef and At&T employee) with support from Chris Lombardi of Hangar 17, and defending champion Adam Pechal of Tuli Bistro.

Chefs Menard and Heutter were the first two to cook, followed by Chefs Modragon and Connell,and bringing up the rear were the team of Tim Ray and Chef Lombardi, and Chef Pechal.  When asked by the Emcees of the competition what I was looking for, I said,”I am looking for the chefs to put themselves on a plate,” which is somewhat similar to what I heard from Chef Flay, Bob Tuschman, and Susie Fogelson during the NFNS competition.  Each of the chefs tackled the challenge with full force, and created a lovely array of dishes that were both beautiful in presentation and in consumption.

Scotch Bonnets, also known as Habaneros, were on of the mystery ingredients for the challenge

Scotch Bonnets, also known as Habaneros, were on of the mystery ingredients for the challenge

With the audience cheering on their favorite chefs, and food being brought to the judges table what seemed like every 5 minutes, there was never a stop in the action, and the food spoke for itself.  Whether it was Chef Menard’s smoky Anchiote Quail with Chorizo Hash, Chef Heutter’s decadent Carrot Ginger Soup w/ Truffle Oil and a Carrot Dust Rim (served in a 2 ounce shot glass), or Chef Pechal’s unbelievable Scallop Ceviche with Lime, Cilantro, best wireless headphones and Habanero Oil, the chefs just kept throwing punches and the judges kept eating them.  In the end, Tuli Bistro’s Chef Adam Pechal defended his title, and seemed very happy to repeat.  “I just tried to put out food that I am proud of and that represented my style of cooking,” he said.  With his younger brother as his sous chef, he did just that.  Joking around after the competition, he mentioned to me that knowing his quail was overcooked, he had to improvise.  “I flash sauteed the quail in the pan with a little Woodford Reserve to help in gain some moisture.”  Although mine was a bit overcooked, the bourbon definitely added flavor, and in my opinion, anyone who uses Woodford Reserve to cook better win, because it is not an inexpensive bottle of booze, and it is not wise to waste good bourbon around me

In the end, the city of Sacramento threw an amazing event, and a good time was had by all.  My “entourage”, which consisted of my dad and 5 friends from NorCal, all had an absolute blast, and were full and inebriated by the end of the evening.  My friends actually started putting buy provigil all of the produce that was supplied for the challenge into boxes, and took about $90 worth of free organic vegetables back to their house, so in the end, it was a fantastic evening.  Tim Ray, the local amateur chef who was helped by Chef Chris Lombardi of Hangar 17, had the best chef’s coat, and even though he didn’t win, definitely gets my award for best dressed.  Thanks to Sacramento for having a SoCal kid crash the party… can’t wait to do it again next year

maybe this will cause some chef's to switch their phone plans to AT&T

maybe this will cause some chef's to switch their phone plans to AT&T

More L.A. Times stuff

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3rd, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

Yet another great article in the LA Times about the Food Network show.

KTLA Morning news featuring – Me!

Posted in Press on June 3rd, 2009 by admin – 1 Comment

L.A. Times Food Section!

Posted in Press on June 3rd, 2009 by Eddie – Be the first to comment

For those of you who don’t kill trees, click on the link below and check out this morning’s L.A. Times article about me and my fellow Los Angeles NFNS Finalists!

A Fat Battle for the Ages: Duck Fat vs. Butter

Posted in Rants and Raves on May 28th, 2009 by Eddie – 1 Comment

Why is it that when we walk down the aisle of the local American supermarket, our choices for cooking fats have been missing one major option: Duck Fat.  And although we have been provided with a plethora of oils to choose from, (whether it be vegetable, sesame, grapeseed, or canola… just to name a few), the staple fat of the American diet is butter.  Strangely enough, butter has become the staple fat of the American diet, and yet among all of the controversy in this day and age regarding cholesterol, it isn’t the healthiest option.  Here are a few things to know about duck fat that will never let you look at butter the same way, and may give you a reason to give our feathered friend the benefit of the doubt.

-    Duck Fat has a higher percentage of mono-unsaturated fat than saturated fat.
-    Mono-unsaturated fats can help to lower levels of blood cholesterol
-    Duck Fat also has lower levels of saturated fats than butter and some cooking oils
-    Duck Fat is 33% saturated fat, while butter is 62% saturated fat
-    Duck Fat (375 degrees F) has a higher smoking point at than butter
-    Unlike butter, Duck Fat can be recycled

People have no problem eating cheese or butter, which is cow fat, but many of them are still scared of duck fat, despite the fact that it is better for you than butter.  And it is definitely healthier than margarine – after all, I’ve never seen a Marg running around the farm.

Ultimately, Duck Fat may never surpass butter as the American cooking fat, but that doesn’t mean true foodies can’t take the time to search out this magical ingredient and begin implementing it into their diets.  If you happen to live near the 3rd Street Farmer’s Market, stop by Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market and pick yourself a few quarts and stick it in your freezer… I promise your Saturday morning eggs will never taste the same.